Lightning Bugs, Fireflies: Beneficial Insects for the Garden

We call them lightning bugs, but in some parts of the country they’re known as fireflies. Whatever you call them, we all enjoy seeing them flitting around and lighting up on summer nights. 

Photinus pyralis image from
Many of us enjoyed catching them and placing them in a lidded jar on our nightstand when we went to bed at night, but did you know that lightning bugs are beneficial insects? 

Lightning bugs are actually beetles that have a soft outer shell instead of a hard one. Lightning bugs lay their eggs in soft mud. Maybe that’s why we have so many this year—if you’ve been out to our place, you’ve seen our mud! 

It’s the larvae that are so helpful to gardeners—eating pests like snails, slugs, cutworms, and other larval pests. The larvae are luminous as well, lighting up all the time, but turning off their light when disturbed. For this reason they’re called Glow-worms. 

Researchers are also studying lightning bugs because they contain two rare chemicals that are used to fight cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, and heart disease. So next time you’re sitting outside enjoying a warm summer evening, think about the wonderful little lightning bugs and all the other benefits God is providing for us in nature!

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